Pioneer VSX-819H-K

On review today is the Pioneer VSX-819H-K AV receiver which is considered to be either the most expensive of the level entry receivers, or just possibly the cheaper end of the mid range spectrum. Looking for an AV receiver can be a bit mind boggling. Who knew that there were so many on offer, even from the same manufacturer, so what is low down and how do you decide which one is for you? Well first of all consider your price band. Most technology falls into three categories: the level entry, the mid range and the top end. Where possible it is generally best to aim for the highest you can, so a cheaper mid range is worth the stretch if you can easily afford the top whack of the level entry.

Pioneer VSX-819H-K Receiver

Pioneer VSX-819H-K Receiver | More Details Opens in new window

Design

Pioneer don’t usually disappoint with their AV styling. The majority of their receivers feature the false split level frontage, and the standard two control knobs one on each side. There is a clear LCD screen with the white text which is easy to read. This may well have been enough; however, Pioneer didn’t stop there. Sadly, the unit has a rather crowded feel, with two rows of buttons, plus a series of jack outlets, which does give easy access when the unit is on the shelf of the entertainment unit, but in most cases have been left on the back of the receiver for aesthetic purposes. What you can see in the way of plastic is finished in a nice looking black gloss, and the top of the unit is a nice uniformed grate of black bullet holes. Overall pleasing once you get past the crowded front. The overall feel of this unit is good. The quality of build certainly seems excellent with all the components being well made, and the remote control is easy to use and also seems well laid out, which is useful for ease of use.

Actual user review:
“The receiver was a breeze to setup and gives plenty of input/output options that allow you to customize your setup with ease. I’m no home audio pro, but I consider myself a big fan of home and car audio and can differentiate between a good and poor sounding audio system. The crossover does a spectacular job of separating the highs from the lows. Without a sub, the speakers will sound ‘tinny’ with weak lows. However, this is a double edged sword because the sound you get from your speakers are dedicated for its purpose. Once a sub is added, it translates into very crisp and clean highs with clear separation from the lows. Every home audio system should be setup with subwoofer of some sort, so this really should not be an issue. My pet peeve is when speakers are taken over by mid-range frequency and dialog/speech from movies are not clear. This receiever does a great job of separating the two. For the money, i think one would be hard pressed to find a receiever as solid as this one. The built in ipod connection is great. Keep in mind adapters for other systems can be an additional $80 accessory. If this is factored into the cost, it really makes this unit a great bargain.” – A.Yang (CA,USA)

 

Performance

The Pioneer VSX-819H-K is loaded with features for a unit of this price, and those of you who can’t live without your iPod or your Sirius then this unit will certainly stand out from others. Both devices can be connected and browsed on screen which is a definite bonus, but is not enough to sell a receiver on its own. So what else can this unit offer?

Well, in terms of high definition output this is what the unit was built for. It handles Blu-ray and high definition audio output with ease and gives excellent sound quality and a picture free from screen distortion. This unit really does impress when you consider the price. It should have no problems with any of the high definition outputs, although some of the early reviews suggest that there are some issues when it comes to Dolby decoding with some tests showing an audio delay. However, this hasn’t been a consistent fault, and may be corrected with some set-up tweaking.

Speaking of set-up, we were pleasantly surprised, and all went well. Following the comprehensive instructions lead us down the right path and the unit was up and running with no problems. The automatic speaker calibration feature certainly comes into its own. Compared to other units on the market the sound quality has also been knocked at review. The problems seem to be regarding the depth of sounds achieved. What was found was that whilst the range of emotions could be achieved, the clarity and depth just wasn’t as good as some of the other units that match on price band and features. However, it certainly wasn’t a failure in terms of performance, and for a beginner AV receiver you could certainly end up spending a lot more and getting less.

Conclusion

This is home cinema experience introduction at its best. The couple of review issues have been noted out of fairness; however, neither are particularly significant and did not occur during every test carried out. If you have never had an AV receiver before and are looking for an introduction that will help you learn about the functionality and be user friendly this may well be your unit of choice. For the home enthusiast that knows lots already about the world of home cinema experiences then this really probably falls a bit short, but in fairness you should expect to pay more if you want a more complex unit that offers more in the way of programming options. For ease of access the front panel is useful for plug and play functions, and the buttons are easy to understand and use. Overall considering the price, the Pioneer VSX-819H-K is certainly worth a second look.

Average User Rating:

  • “This is an amazing receiver. I’m fairly new to the world of surround sound and digital tv and audio, but I was dismayed to find out that to get surround sound I would have to pay 300-1500 dollars for a receiver to power speakers I have to pay for as well!! Well, after doing a bit of research, I found this great entry level “budget” receiver. I payed under 300 dollars and it has all the specs I need for my little 5.1 surround sound. Ultimately, if you’re on the fence about getting this receiver, or whether or not to get this one over the entry level yamaha, go for the Pioneer. Its worked great, has an additional HDMI input, it does audio over HDMI, which limits the use of cords, and it sounds great!!!” – C.Wagnon (CA,USA)
  • “Bought this receiver because I wanted one that could decode Blu-ray audio (DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD). Came with an added bonus, a USB port for direct hookup of your ipod. This receiver is extremely easy to set up, no matter what your speaker configuration is, and it sounds great with my 5.1 system. It can also decode PCM audio for blu-ray, and it can control your ipod when listening to music. It also switches HDMI sources for you (the only 2 I have are my blu-ray and cable box.) All in all, I can’t say enough good things about this receiver. Great value for the price!” – M.Sutton (USA)

 

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